|Dr. John Alfred Osborne
John Alfred Osborne (27 May 1936 – 2 January 2011) was a chief minister of Montserrat. Dr Osborne holds the distinction of being the longest serving member of the Montserratian legislature, totalling 38 years between 1966 and 2009, 18 of these as Chief Minister and Minister of Finance and Development.
He first came to that position in November 1978, as a member of the People's Liberation Movement, and continued until losing legislative council elections on 10 October 1991. By 2001 he had switched parties, joining the New People's Liberation Movement. Under his leadership, the NPLM won 7 of 9 seats in legislative council elections on 2 April 2001, and he served as chief minister from 5 April 2001 until 3 June 2006 when he resigned after elections in which his party was defeated. However, Dr. Osborne was a member of the Dr. Lowell Lewis coalition government until March 2009 when he retired from public office.
A major issue for his government has been the continuing recovery of the island of Montserrat after a volcanic eruption which devastated the southern part of the island, burying the capital city of Plymouth in ash and forcing its population to flee, in many cases off the island due to lack of housing. The eruption, which began in July, 1995, continues today on a vastly reduced scale, the damage being confined to Plymouth and the surrounding areas. As of 2005, a new airport and docking facilities have opened and Montserratians and tourists alike are beginning to return.
Chief Minister Osborne notched up a number of significant accomplishments in the social sphere:
- He enhanced community security by upgrading rural police stations at Harris and St. Patrick’s.
- Pursuant to his commitment to law and order, he gave financial approval for the construction of an imposing police headquarters at Brades at the turn of the century.
- To his restructured education system to provide universal access to secondary schooling he only recently started a modernization or reform of the school, which is continuing and is of profound importance to the future of Montserrat.
- New primary and nursery schools were built in the rural districts of Bethel and Long Ground respectively together with the establishment of primary care nursing facilities in these outlying districts. That model of primary care available at your doorstep is still being practiced by the Health System.
- During his watch, St. Patrick’s Day became a national holiday with emphasis on the celebration of national heroes in keeping with his accent on national pride and self-respect. The holiday now has rich implications for tourism, economic activity and national cohesion.
Honours and Awards
The Montserrat-based American University of the Caribbean had earlier recognized his contribution to the island’s development with an honorary Doctorate.
Death and legacy
Osbourne died in the United States on Sunday, 2 January 2011, after a long illness. His body was laid to rest at the St Peters Anglican Church cemetery on Saturday 22 January 2011 after an offical funeral.
In July 2008, Gerald's Airport in Montserrat was renamed John A. Osborne Airport in his honour.